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Health & Parenting

Your Child and Alcohol

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WebMD Feature

At some point, most likely well before he turns 21, your child will have to make a choice about whether to drink alcohol. Your role as a parent is to prepare him. But first, prepare yourself by learning the facts.

Don’t Assume Your Child Won’t Try Alcohol

  • 10% of eighth graders say they drank alcohol in the past month.
  • 39% of high school seniors say they drank alcohol in the past month.

Young drinkers are more likely do risky things. When kids age 12 to 20 drink, they often binge (having five or more drinks in a row.) The earlier a young person starts, the more they tend to binge drink. That raises the chances they’ll hurt themselves or others.

Binge drinking can also slow down the development of the part of the brain that controls judgment. Normally, it keeps forming until we’re about 25 years old. That’s why teens so often act on impulse.

Can You Teach Your Child to Drink Responsibly?

If you’re right there with your child to supervise, it will be OK, right?

Not really. It may seem like a good idea, but research strongly indicates the longer you keep your kid from drinking, the better. 

There’s no evidence to show letting your underage child drink alcohol at home leads to responsible drinking. And indulging at an earlier age raises risks of alcohol problems, like alcoholism. Kids who drink before age 15 are four times more likely to have addiction problems as an adult than those who wait until they’re 21.

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